Positive Aspects of Aging
The following rewarding and positive aspects of aging can balance the negative stereotypes often associated with it:
You are wiser.
Wisdom is a valuable ingredient that accompanies aging. In the past, elders were repositories of wisdom. Younger people could learn and find guidance from the lives of older adults, whether tragic or triumphant. The respected elder possesses an intuitive knowledge of how to judge a situation and then make the necessary and most appropriate decisions.
You are confident.
The aging person with a positive attitude can cast off the burden of superficial limitations that a youth-oriented society imposes. The confident older adult uses the skills acquired from diverse experiences in life to demonstrate and perpetuate ongoing feelings of healthy self-esteem and self-worth.
You are your own person.
You know who you are; you know what you like and don’t like. Contentment in your life is possible because you have a strong balance between successes and failures. You don’t take rejection personally. The practical wisdom that you earned from experiencing both triumph and tragedy provides you a solid groundedness.
You are a conduit to the past.
Your recollections of significant historical events are to be respected. Aging people maintain a key position through being able to give family and community an important sense of continuity with the past. You provide continuous reminders of important values that individuals and communities should maintain in the present. Your very presence creates a connection between generations.
You are a grand parent.
Whether you become a grandparent to your own grandchildren or a surrogate grandparent to children of the community, you are a role model. Individuals and communities can learn valuable lessons from various ethnic cultures because they demonstrate respect for the wisdom and balance that older generations bring to the family and community. In the past, many cultures regarded the role of grand parent very highly since the elder typically was responsible for the spiritual education of young people. Frequently elders taught the young how to read scripture and to pray.
You are motivated.
Growing old is truly a gift. During this stage, you are increasingly aware of how precious time is, and you feel a desire to use it wisely. A display of enthusiastic interest in lifelong learning, leisure activities, and volunteerism can promote good personal health and inspire younger generations.
You are more spiritual.
In contrast to younger people, adults age 65 and older report that spirituality is important in their lives. Spirituality helps to give our lives more meaning. Spirituality is not necessarily connected to a specific belief system or religious worship. Instead, it arises from your connection with yourself and with others, the development of your personal values, and your search for purpose in life. Therefore, spirituality is different for everyone. It may take the form of a religious service or ceremony, prayer, meditation, and/or a belief in a higher power. You also can find spirituality in nature, music, art, or a secular community.
You must meet obvious challenges with advancing age. Fostering a network of friendships old and new, remaining connected to family and community, and nurturing spirituality will greatly assist the aging person to address these challenges with a greater sense of balance and peace.
Administration on Aging: www.aoa.gov
National Institute on Aging: www.nia.nih.gov
Ohio Dept of Aging: www.state.oh.us/age
Moberg, D. (2001). Aging and spirituality: Spiritual Dimensions of Aging Theory, Research, Practice and Policy. New York: Haworth Pastoral Press
The Wisdom Years, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration: http://fspa.org/index.php
Mary L. Dierling is retired from clinical general dentistry. She currently works full time as a patient advocate for HealthEastHealth Care System in St. Paul, MN and is a 2006 Bethel University graduate with a master’s degree in Social Gerontology.
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